Winter wonderland in Switzerland

One week roaming this beautiful country in our van

And just like that we are back from Switzerland. We left one week ago and we got back home last night. This was our third time to this beautiful country and the third time we traveled around its quaint little towns in our van. 

The first day we drove for over eight hours and we stopped near Lyon (France) to spend the night  on one of those big gas stations along the highway. We were very close to Geneve but my husband had been working the morning shift and we were tired to continue driving. After a good night sleep we ventured onward to one of the most beautiful valleys in the country, a place we visit every time we return to Switzerland, a tiny village called Lauterbrunnen. This time though, we took a train that goes to the Jungfrau (4158m). This train goes all the way up to the highest train station in Europe at 3454m, but we decided to stop in Wengen where the views where already incredible.  

This valley is very close to Interlaken, another favorite spot of us. Interlaken is a little town in between two lakes and there are tiny villages around them, just like this one below, called Iseltwald. 

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The next day, we drove to the other side of the mountains of the Jungfrau region. Our plan was to take a cable car all the way up to the viewpoint of Eggishorn (2927m) from where you can sit and stare for hours the Aletsch glacier. Unfortunately, once we got there, they told us that the top was covered in clouds and that it would be impossible to see anything. The worst was that it was already Tuesday and the rest of the days except for Friday (our last full day) the weather forecast said we would be having rain and snow. I have to admit that made us a bit sad, but it also pushed us to change our plans and search for other wonderful locations to explore. 

Until we made it to Italy. That is one of my favorite things about Europe... it's so easy to have breakfast in one country, lunch in another and spend the night on a third one. And all of them are so unique and beautiful.  We drove along Lago Maggiore (Italy) and suddenly we were surprised by the beauty of a little town called Cannero Riviera, and we didn't think about it twice, we found a camping by the lake where we spent our third night. 

It rained all night, and the sound of rain against the roof of the van was so relaxing... But when morning came we needed to get back on the road to drive through Valle de Verzasca. We were surprised by the magical fog over the lake and the mountains. The colorful towns along the road had such a unique mood. It was truly special, and perfect for the kind of photos I like to take. 

Our first stop of the day was in Lavertezzo. I'm sure you've already seen photos of this quaint little village of only a handful of houses and emerald color river that flows through the entire valley. 

The color of the freezing water and the big stones of the river are already perfect, and the stony bridge that connects both sides of the river is pretty unique too.

At the end of the road that crosses Valle de Verzasca, there were mountains also covered in fog. But that whole morning, even with pouring rain was so beautiful. We had to stop every few kilometers to take in the views around us and photograph a bit more. 

In the afternoon, we drove the to the famous town of Sankt Moritz, the famous ski station in Switzerland. On our way there, we were greeted by a white landscape, with frozen lakes that made everything feel so desolate, yet so peaceful at the same time.  

The next morning it was already Thursday, and even though it was still raining and snowing, we wanted to get closer to the Aletsch glacier and Zermatt area, because we were expecting good weather for Friday. So we woke up in time to watch the sunrise over a lake and then headed out towards Fribourg to spend the day and get some chocolate and cheese there... Always a must, if you are in Switzerland. 

On Thursday night we slept on an empty camping by the town of Fiesch. We watched the sun go down and stars lit up what would be the coldest night of our trip. We had static heating installed on our campervan so we slept pretty warm and comfy though. 

The next day, the sun rose around 7.30am and we got ready to get to the top of Eggishorn and then drive to Zermatt to catch a train to the Gornergrat glacier where we had lunch looking at the famous Matterhorn. 

I think it was the perfect ending to our week exploring the beauty of Switzerland. In the end, we were able to see everything we had planned, and a bit more. That's the best thing about roadtrips, you never know what lies ahead, and the road is part of the journey too. 

All these photos were shot with the Fujifilm XT2, along with the XF16mm f1.4, XF23mm f1.4 and XF18-55mm.

Edited with Forged presets by Tribe Red Leaf Studios who were kind enough to team with us and support us through their Field Trip Program. I'm very grateful to be part of such a wondeful collective. 

Hope you liked our little adventure!

See you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

How I achieve this moody look in my forest photos

Outdoor photography isn't easy. There are many factors that make this style really challenging, but today I'm going to concentrate on just one: Mood. I often read comments on my photos that say something like "Oh I love the mood in your photos", but what does this really mean?

I'm very specific about the kind of photos that I like to take and make. I have already mentioned in other blog posts, that I like to go out when it's dark, cloudy and foggy. There is something about that eerie and mysterious look that I'm really attracted to. I feel that the sense of adventure is greater in those conditions. I don't know really know, maybe it's because of the place where I live (Basque Country), where rain and clouds are a constant in our lives and I'm just comfortable shooting in the rain. I guess that somehow, having grown up in an environment like ours, has played an important role in the style of photographs that I enjoy shooting, and I'm very grateful for that. 

I always carry a small camera with me and this helps a lot, because whenever the conditions are right (for the kind of photos I like to take) I always have a tool available in my car. I'm lucky to live surrounded by beautiful forests and mountains, so in less than a thirty minute drive, I have all these locations that you see in the photos below, for myself. I'm usually the only one out there, probably because people don't find rainy weather exciting to go out and shoot, so it's always a pleasure to wander around these places in silence. 

Other important factors of my photographs are how I expose and edit. I like dark shadows and vibrant colors. How do I achieve that? By under exposing while I'm taking the photos and playing with the curve tones and the different sliders of colors in Lightroom. Many people have told me that I under expose a bit too much in camera (sometimes even a couple of stops), and then during post processing I open up the shadows quite a lot. For many photographers, this may sound a bit contradictory, because they prefer to get the correct exposure when they are out in the field. However, I find editing as important as the actual process of taking the photo, so I've put in a lot of hours to develop an editing style that I really like and that works for my photos. 

Over the years I've created a bunch of presets, and most of the photos you see here are based on a couple of those. Once I apply the preset, the next step is to adapt the sliders to each photo. The same happens with the new Forged presets that I use and were created by Tribe Red Leaf Studios. Their colors are incredible, but when you buy presets from others, you need to adapt them to your own work, because the light, atmosphere, textures and subjects are different in each session. Even if I put my presets up for sale, you probably wouldn't be able to get the same tones as I do, unless you also exposed and took the photos in the same kind of light and conditions that I work in. 

There are some repetitive factors on my photos, the locations I shoot, the conditions in which I photograph, the way I expose in camera and the kind of presets I apply in editing. I know that that's what differentiates my work from yours, and I really believe that each of us should have our own techniques and should work to find a unique look. This is not easy, because we are constantly flooded by the same kind of photos, in the same kind of places and with similar styles... But at least, we should try to overcome this and create something different and one of a kind.

It's important to know how the weather conditions affect the way a place looks, therefore, I always recommend to go back to the same place and shoot over and over in order to learn when it's best to choose one location or another. Yes, sometimes I'm lucky and I'm rewarded by these beautiful scenes even when I wasn't planning on it, but a lot of the times I just head back home with an empty card. And that is still fine, because the little walk in the forest is always perfect to clear your mind and to connect with nature.

So, tell me, what do you like to photograph and what are your favorite conditions to photograph in? Let me know, I'd love to hear!

Brief adventure on a snowy Tuesday

I had three hours in between classes and my husband was working the afternoon shift. There was snow in the mountains so it only took us a couple of minutes to put on warm clothes and head out of the door. We don't have a proper sledge, so we took a couple of plastic bags to slide down the mountain. It was the best 3 hours e've had in a while. 

All photographs taken with the Fujifilm Xt10+16mm f1.4

It's a slow winter

Yesterday was the first day that we saw the sun here in the Basque Country ever since the beginning of February. It's been cold and snowing and I haven't really shot that much lately. Sunrise is after I get to work and sunset is before I finish my last class of the day, so the light hasn't been great when I was available to go out exploring either. But somehow, I still managed to get a few shots that I'm proud of to share here. 

The first two photos are from a rainy morning back in December when we still had a few fall colors up in the trees. Same as the third, which was taken going down from a mountain pass when I saw the fog rolling in through the pine tree forest and I had to stop on the side of the road to grab a couple of shots. 

The next two were taken sometime in January by chance. I remember finishing my first class in the morning, and while I was on my way home I saw that this forest was the only area covered by fog, since it's not too far from where I live, I decided to check out what the atmosphere was like. I recently got the Fuji 35mm f2, which in full frame terms means a 50mm. As you can see from my work, I love to shoot wide, and I mostly shoot with either the 16mm f1.4 (24mm) or with the 23mm f1.4 (35mm). So the 35mm has been attached to my little XT10 in order to learn how use this focal length and it was also, the only lens I had with me on that day. Finding a good composition in this forest was really difficult, because this focal length not only is narrow and probably works better for street shots or portraits, but I'm not used to framing like this either. I somehow managed to get a couple of photos that I'm really happy with, due to their misteryous look. 

These next two photos of the river were some of my favorite from January. I remember it was early in the morning and I drove up to the mountain in search of a cool view from our town below. As I was going up I decided to take a road that I had never driven before but that it looked like there could be something worth photographing. I was right. It was a misty morning and the sun was coming up from the side of this beautiful river. The light was incredible and I spent quite sometime wandering around the sides of the river trying to get some photos, again with the 35mm. I didn't get much because it was way too cold and I was freezing.

Also back in January I went to another forest where I usually go to and where I actually took the first two photos of this set. Another foggy and cold morning where my car got too dirty on those muddy roads but where I walked around this lovely path in seca of some compositions. 

And finally the last five shots that I just took earlier this week. These photos were taken 200m away from one another and only 10minutes away from home. I remember walking down that forest path once before, sometime last year, but it never looked that good. It was really cold, and the sun was getting through those pine trees and it looked so beautiful.

I was able to get a nice photo of the back country road before the fog was gone and the sun lit the forest, which also ended up being one of my favorite shots I've taken in quite a while. 

*I've added this photo to my print gallery in case someone wants to get one. I have already made a couple of test prints and they look gorgeous. Also, I think I'll make a new editing video to show how I made this, let me know if that is something that interests you.

Hope you like these and their behind the scenes stories!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! 

Favorite photos from 2017

These are some of my favorite photographs from 2017, probably not the best, but there is something about them that I really like. 

Hoping 2018 brings more adventures, new projects and lots of inspiration to keep creating!

Enjoy!